DANCETCU finds a new way to get male students dancing

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    Nonsexual touch between men and women is at the core of a TCU dance class successfully attracting male students who aren’t dance majors.

    Contact improvisation has been offered by the DANCETCU program since 2010, and some male students who have taken the class say that it’s stirred their interest in dance.

    The class is “what martial arts would be without any competitive element,” Nina Martin, the DANCETCU professor who originally brought the class to campus, said. 

    The style, which was invented in the U.S. in 1972, is internationally popular. The class requires no dance experience and also serves as “the leveler” for dance majors because it is a completely new style for experienced dancers, Martin said.

    Martin said contact improvisation is breaks down gender stereotypes in dance.

    “Men have to become more graceful and lithe, and women have to become stronger and assertive, so they can meet in the middle,” Martin said. “It’s really cool, women are lifting men. In most dances, men are lifting women.”

    Martin taught the class for four semesters before passing it over to adjunct professor Lily Sloan.

    “I just really fell in love with the athleticism and improvisation,” Sloan said.

    This semester, 20 students, about half of them male, are enrolled in the class.

    Although the technique requires more contact with other people than most students are used to in daily life, Sloan said students welcome the challenges of the class

    “They all come in with open minds. They are just willing to try things and go out of their comfort zones,” Sloan said.

    Sophomore math major Wyatt Harris said he enrolled after talking with friends who had taken improvisation and after he took the lecture course Dance and World Cultures. He said he’s considering taking Intro to Ballet for non-dance majors next fall.

    Martin said she was surprised when her son, Ian Hunt, a sophomore entrepreneurial management major, enrolled in the class this semester.

    Hunt, who said he grew up with this style of dancing, originally didn’t plan to take the course. However, a friend convinced him and classmate Barrington Hwang to take the class. In addition to serving as a stress reliever, Hunt said he enjoys learning something that is not traditional schoolwork.

    This is the fourth dance class for Hwang, a senior biology, economics and chemistry triple major who is graduating in May. He said he wishes he had taken more dance classes in his time at TCU.

    The class will be showcased at ‘Gotta Dance’ on April 30 at 8 p.m. in Studio B in Erma Lowe. The performance features all of the non-dance major classes, including African dance, modern, ballet, ballroom dancing and hip-hop.